Cardinal and Former First Lady
There were some in the postwar years who considered anti‐ Roosevelt calumny a form of patriotism and Mrs. Roosevelt's elimination from public life a public service.
Westbrook Pegler made a career of attacks upon her. The New York World-Telegram had dropped his column, but it had been picked up by the Hearst papers. His abuse knew no bounds. "The widow," "La Boca Grande," "the Gab," "Eleanor the Great" were some of his names for her. He described her as the daughter of "a dissolute drunkard," a coddler of Communists, accused her of living off the taxpayers' largesse, and on occasion even suggested she was a liar. Her opposition in the United Nations to the return of ambassadors to Franco Spain outraged him, as did her treatment of Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty as a political figure and not simply as a religious martyr. That was nothing but the Communist line, he maintained, "Yes, I want to know more about the whole lot of them [meaning the Roosevelts ] and I want to run up the whole vile record of treachery which I know there is to be had and chisel it on rock as a memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt." 1
She would later explain to reporter Carl Rowan: "I always thought (and his wife, in fact, once told me) that he could never write unless he was angry and that he actually looked at my husband's picture to make him angry." That was a vicious lie, Mrs. Pegler wrote her. She considered her husband saintly, idealistic, and a patriot. "I am very sorry if I quoted you wrongly," Mrs. Roosevelt replied, "but I remember very distinctly a picnic at Mr. Bye's when you spoke to a group of us and said that Mr. Pegler wrote better when he was angry.... I know what a devoted hus